Titanfall Diaries: Part One

Letters Home“Dearest Robert,

It has been nearly one week since I enlisted with the Interstellar Manufacturing Corporation in their fight against the Militia. I paid my $60 recruitment fee (thanks again for the 20% off coupon code) and set out to do my part for whatever planet it is we are from. Things have been happening very quickly since then. It is hard to believe that in such a short period of time I’ve learned to run along walls and pilot giant robots. Or that I’ve killed so many in pursuit of such an unclear goal. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

Robert, do you remember when we were little and used to climb trees in Mrs. Coohill’s backyard? She had those enormous oaks with branches as thick around as our bodies. The day I fell from one of her trees and broke my right arm is still very clear to me. We were draped over the bark, hanging like cats, and the leaves were shading us from the sun. It was one of those humid summer days when the air feels solid and thick enough to swallow. I was surprised when an enormous gust of wind blew in and shook the tree. I’m not sure you remember how startled I was, but it was that unexpected wind that scared me enough to fall from the branch. You were very good to me, of course, and ran off to get help right after checking to make sure I was okay. But, all the same, that suspended time when I was falling down to the grass has always stuck with me. I was thinking about that sensation again yesterday when, for what seems like the hundredth time, I was ejected from my Titan, cloaked in my invisibility shield, and flew down toward the battlefield.

Have they told you about the fighting, Robert? Do they tell the civilians what it’s really like to be here, nostrils filled with the smoke emitting from the Titanfall Pilotruins of enormous robots? Do they tell you about the stench that accompanies a Titan falling thousands of feet into the ground? There’s a curious smell, like hairspray, when their shields activate. You probably imagine all of this bloodshed is awful, but, really, I’m becoming somewhat convinced that this war has been manufactured as a way to let both sides have a lot of fun. I suppose conflict used to be a lot of sprinting from one place to another, then slowing down and trying to sneak up behind someone to put a surprise bullet through their torso. With the giant robots and double-jumping we have now it’s actually become quite different. We get to move all over the place so quickly! The battlefields are set up so that we can run from one wall to another without ever having to touch the ground. It seems like that shouldn’t be too much of a thrill, but it really is.

Of course war isn’t always such a great time. The draft materials were always heavy on Titans, as if those giant robots were going to be so much fun to pilot. They’re not really. I know you probably think I’m selling them short, Robert, but believe me, after driving around one of those robots three or four times you just get to wishing that you were out of it again. Compared to running around in a flight-suit, they really seem so slow and boring. Controlling a Titan is like how I imagine fighting used to feel in the old days. You walk or sprint from one place to another, hide around corners, and try to get the drop on the enemy Titans. It’s a lot duller than I expected.

TreeI know I shouldn’t complain about staying away from danger either, but it’s hard not to get a little fed up with all the waiting around the other pilots and I have to do. I hang out for what seems like forever in lobbies before embarking on missions, nobody to pass the time with but one or two other soldiers. They aren’t much for conversation, unless it’s to talk about the kind of “achievements” they’re trying to unlock, which doesn’t seem all that interesting to me. I miss quality conversation, Robert. I’ve taken to having a book open while we bide the time, waiting to deploy. It helps make the waiting go a bit faster.

I suppose I’ve rambled on long enough. They tell us we’ll be done whatever it is we’re trying to get accomplished here by Christmas, and you wouldn’t believe how happy it would make me to come home in time to decorate the tree with you and mom and dad. There has been some talk of something called a “DLC Map Pack,” though, and some of the other troops think that it is a ploy to keep us fighting even longer. I am not sure if I could handle contributing to the war for that long. In any case, I hope you are all keeping well and that everything is all right at home. I will do my best to stay safe and write whenever I have an opportunity.

***

Reid McCarter is a writer, editor, and musician living and working in Toronto. He has written for sites and magazines including Kill Screen, Pixels or Death, Paste, and The Escapist. He is also editor-in-extremis for videogame site Digital Love Child. He tweets tweets @reidmccarter.

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